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Fashion brands rapidly embracing the ‘circular economy’, study reveals

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New research indicates how quickly the fashion industry is moving away from a linear economy — where clothes are made from virgin materials and then simply discarded when no longer needed — to a circular economy where clothes and materials are reused as much as possible.

In this way, a circular economy can significantly cut down on waste and save clothes from piling up on landfills. For example, if a garment tears, it can be repaired. When this is not a practical option, new uses can be found for the fabrics comprising the clothing item.

In a new survey of board directors and senior executives working in fashion, 12% said they expected their business to achieve full circularity within just one or two years, while 34% said within two to three years and 31% sooner than three to four years.

The race to save the planet  

The research was undertaken by Aquapak Polymers Ltd, a Birmingham-based purveyor of polymer-based material technologies excelling in both performance and environmental friendliness.

Fashion brands and retailers from the UK, US, and Australia were represented in the study, which found more than half — 54% — of the survey respondents describing their business as both market-leading and innovative in sustainability.

On this same front, 39% classed their business as average and “following the leaders”, while 7% deemed their company a “laggard” and “playing catchup”.

Indeed, a large share of the study participants recognised that there was much more they could do to strengthen their efforts in the fight against climate change.

Overall, although 49% cited sustainability as highly important to their company’s success, a mere 21% judged the effectiveness of their sustainability strategy and programme as excellent in quality.

A fifth believed that it could take as long as four to five years for their business to become fully circular. This statistic reveals the steep mountain many organisations still need to climb.

How could luxury brands make a sustainability breakthrough?

For many of these companies, achieving their longer-term sustainability goals could be largely just a matter of utilising solutions already on the market. Consider the fact that 37% of the earlier-mentioned directors and executives said reducing the amount of polyethylene plastic in packaging was crucial to their sustainability plans.

The businesses pursuing these strategies could benefit from swapping out this plastic for the unique new Aquapak polymer, Hydropol. This clear, film-based material can be used for producing garment bags resistant to punctures and other damage that could lead the bags to leak.

Especially importantly for organisations and consumers pursuing circularity, these bags can be easily dissolved in hot water, composted in the garden, or simply deposited in a domestic waste stream — all without leaving micro-plastics potentially harmful to marine life.

If your own prestige brand is chasing a circularity target, you should be careful not to violate consumers’ trust by succumbing to ‘greenwashing’; that is, being misleading about your eco-friendly credentials. 

Please feel free to contact our specialist digital marketing agency for luxury brands today, in order to receive help with safeguarding your firm’s reputation and achieving your business’s growth ambitions for 2024 and beyond. You can reach to our London-based, but globally-minded experts via email or online contact form


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